For the third consecutive year, Hope College student-athletes took a break from their summer activities to serve for an afternoon at Special Days Camps in Montague, Michigan.
Special Days Camps provide the traditional camping opportunities for children who have experienced cancer and their siblings for two weeks in the summer.
The first week is dedicated to siblings, while the following week houses children who currently have cancer, or have battled in the past.
Both weeks engage kids with fun activities that allow kids to be “just kids.”
Many of the campers have been attending for years. The community they have established is something Hope athletes were grateful to experience.
“I’ve never witnessed a group of people that cared for each other on such a deep level, so to see that was incredible,” said Ryan VanderPloeg, a senior lacrosse player. “The best part about the community was watching these older kids look out for the younger kids. It wasn’t weird, it wasn’t strange, and it wasn’t like they were trying to be parents.
“They just knew what these kids were going through and what they will go through and that connection was something extremely powerful to experience firsthand.”
While at camp, Hope athletes were placed on teams with campers to participate in a life-size game of the traditional card game, “Spoons.” They also joined the campers for a a swim in the lake, arts and crafts, more camp games, and dinner time.
To cap off a great day, Special Days Campers had the opportunity to give Hope athletes a pie in the face.
Hope athletes enjoyed their time interacting with the kids throughout the day and were greatly impacted by their experiences.
Junior swimmer Jorgie Watson said, “Special Days Camp has awesome campers, staff, and atmosphere. These kids have had a tough life so to see them happy, having fun, and smiling made the experience amazing. It was nice to give back to the community even if it meant getting pied in the face, playing capture the flag, and gaga ball. I can’t wait to go back next year!”